Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Love of Learning

Adult Learning in the GTA and Toronto Schools

By WENDY TERRY - November 16 2015

When we think of schools, we think of children’s education but they are a key provider of adult education. To get the picture just try getting a parking spot on a weeknight at an adult education centre. Seasoned adult learners know the early bird gets the spot.

School Board Continuing Education courses are the most affordable adult education. For the 99% who are struggling to stay afloat and feel they can’t afford to upgrade their education to get a better job have a look at the school boards. By taking a school board course you can start yourself on a path to college, university and a better job.

Most school boards have several adult education centres that offer all or some of the following: English classes (ESL or LINC or ELT) for those who have English as a second and in today’s world possibly a third or fourth language; a place to earn a high school diploma at an adult day school or in an evening course; pick up practical skills for a job not only in computers but for jobs like personal support work, hairstyling, carpentry and others, and in co-op programs to gain work experience, LBS Literacy Basic Skills programs now called Essential Skills where you can get basic upgrading help with computers, math and English- for first language speakers; general interest courses which cover a broad range of language learning (French, Spanish, Mandarin etc), arts, crafts, music, computers, dance, cooking, etc. and some school boards sponsor; Employment Ontario Centres, to find work or access retraining through Second Career funding as well as Newcomer Information Centres. Some boards offer online credit courses.

Each GTA and Toronto school Board is organized slightly differently but they offer similar programs for free or at a low cost. You need to shop around in case you miss a program that is unique to that one board and perfect for you. When asking around it is better to tell people your goals than to ask for a specific course as they may know of a course that would help you but you hadn’t thought existed. For instance, if you say “I’m an engineer from back home, I want to upgrade my English and get a related job.” you would be referred to an Enhanced Language Training to upgrade your technical language and these ELT (enhanced language training) programs have a co-op work placement in a your field. Whereas if you say “I want an advanced ESL class” you would be referred to a ESL 7/8 class.

The adult day school programs where you earn high school credits offer academic and career counseling, they even help you fill out college and university application forms.

Public and Catholic School Boards

There are two school systems in the province– one public and the other Catholic. Both offer courses to adults. The following is a guide to finding adult programs in each.


Peel District School Board

Click on Quick Links for Adult ESL, LINC, Credit and LBS.

There are three main campuses offering a wide variety of adult learning opportunities including ESL, LINC, Secondary School Credit and LBS.

  • Mississauga Campus -100 Elm Drive West A block south of Square One Call 905-270-6000
  • Brampton Campus 7700 Hurontario Street Unit 300 just South on Steeles on Hurontario Call 905-791-6700
  • Bramalea Campus -25 King’s Cross Road Unit 3 East of Bramalea Recreation Centre Cal 905-791-6700

York Region District School Board

Click on Community then Continuing Education.

  • Dr. Betty Stephenson Centre for Learning. 36 Regatta Avenue, Richmond Hill Call 905-884-2046 Offers high school credits, credit night school, and a Personal Support Worker program.
  • Uplands Learning Centre 8120 Yonge Street, Thornhill (Just south of #7 on Yonge street) Offers day, evening and weekend non-credit adult ESL classes. Call 905-731-9557 for information about this site and over 30 other ESL sites Also at Uplands and other sites Literacy Basic Skills programs (English, Computers and Math Upgrading) and LINC classes too

Durham District School Board

Click on Program then Continuing Education There are three main centres where high school credits, english as a second language Literacy Basic Skills and computer training are offered. DDSB offers Pathway Programs such as Personal Support Worker, Building Maintenance, Hospitality and Office Administration

  • E. A. Lovell Continuing Education Centre 120 Centre Street South Just south of the civic centre. Call 905-436-3211
  • Pickering Learning Centre 1400 Bayly Avenue Just east of the GO Station Call 905-831-3118
  • Computer Training Division 2nd Floor Suite 155 Oshawa Shopping Centre Call 905-579-6041

Halton District School Board

Learning Curves delivers to Oakville which is just west of Mississauga and served by the Halton District School Board.

  • The Gary Allan High School 1330 Montclair Oakville. Call 905-5845.7542
  • The Centre for Skills Development and Training\ Employment Servies 465 Morden Road , Oakville Call 905-845-1157
  • Immigrant Serivces 3295 Abbeywood Drive, Oakville Call 905-847-8345

Toronto District School Board.

This school board has remained the largest provider of adult education in the province for over 160 years. The home page banner leads you straight to their offerings by clicking on adult learners.

There are many centres in the following program areas: Adult Credit programs; night school and adult day school; general Interest programs under Learn4Life. Then there are employment services through their Next Steps Centres. Learn English classes and Settlement services are well dispersed throughout the city.

Adult Day Schools

Here you can earn credits towards a high school diploma. There are five centres. Each have similar programs and some have programs unique to that Centre. Be sure to check them all out before deciding.

  • Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre (BCALC) 500 the East Mall, Etobicoke Call 416-394-7130 The BCALC web site identifies a special education program for those with learning disabilities.
  • City Adult Learning Centre (CALC) 1 Danforth Ave. Toronto Call 416-393-9740 http://schoolstdsb, They have in addition to a PSW program and Registered Practical Nurse program in collaboration with George Brown College.
  • Emery Adult Learning Centre 3395 Weston Road North York Call 416-395-3325 They have a specific co-op progam for internationally educated teachers.
  • Scarborough Centre For Alternative Studies (SCAS) 720 Midland Scarborough Call 416-396-6739] The SCAS website notes a pre-apprenticeship program in carpentry, a growing labour market with the aging and retirement of Canada’s skill trades workers.
  • Yorkdale Adult Learning Centre 38 Orfus Road, North York Call 416-395-3350 Their website lists a Pathway to Health Sciences at George Brown College. They also note in their co-op programs, dental assistant, dental technology, office administration- medical and hearing instrument specialist, all growing labour markets with the aging of the population. The SHSM program, Specialist High Skills in the Field of Energy, is a very relevant program for the growth in energy conservation .employment.

Continuing Education (General Interest Courses)

There are over 37 centres and fortunately the Winter program calendar lists courses offered by site starting on page 36. You can scan the calendar online and often they are available at the larger centres and at public libraries

In Learn4Life courses, you can take a hobby; stay fit, learn a language (French, Mandarin, Spanish, etc.); or gain new skills, many of which are work-related skills such as computers or accounting or customer service.

Learning English

There are three program areas, ESL 85 sites, LINC Centres 14 of these and Enhanced Language Training, ELT four centres here.

English as a Second Language

Of the 85 sites where courses are offered, six of these offer intake support.

  • Toronto Bickford Centre Call 416-393-0528 Jones Avenue Adult Centre Call 416-393-9645
  • North York Bathurst Heights Adult Learning Centre 416-395-4980 Overland Learning Centre 416-395-5080
  • Scarborough Winston Churchill Collegiate Call 396-6909
  • Etobicoke Mimico Adult Learning Centre. 416-338-4300 Language Instruction for Newcomers. Many of the 14 centres offer child minding services.

Enhanced Language Training Call 416-395-8270 There are four centres which offer enhanced language training (business English skills) in Engineering, Customer Service and Administration, Accounting, Information Technology, Sales and Marketing, Hospitality, and Financial Services. These ELT programs offer 8 weeks in class and a 6 week work (unpaid) work placement to gain practice

Employability Skills This progam used to be called Literacy Basic Skills. This program is for English speakers who need to upgrade their skills in English, Computers and Math for further education or employment. There are 26 sites where these programs are offered and three intake centres.

  • Etobicoke Call 416-394-3809
  • Toronto Call 416-393-1995
  • Scarborough 416-396-6904

Learning in the Catholic Boards

Durham Catholic District School Board There are four main centres for ESL, High School Credit, PSW, LBS

  • Oshawa Campus 692 King Street, East Call 905-438-0570
  • Ajax Campus 458 Fairall Street Unit 7 Call 905-683-7713
  • Welcome Centre ESL & Linc Programs 458 Fairall Street (corner of Westney Road & Fairall St. Across from the Ajax Go Station) Call 289-481.1336
  • Whitby Adult English Language Classes Giffard Centre 1003 Giffard Street. Call 905-666-1255

DCDSB offers of General Interest courses. in Languages (Spanish, French, Sign) Fitness, Cooking and Business Call 905-683-7713 DCDSB offers a Personal Support Worker Program Call 905-438-0570 Oshawa or 905-683-7713 Ajax

York Catholic District School Board Call 416-221-5051 Click on Departments then Adult Program YCDSB offers and extensive ESL program Computer and General Interest classes.

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board There are two main centres for ESL, High School credits, and a Personal Support Worker program

  • St. Gabriel Adult Learning Centre Malton 3750 Brandon Gate Drive Call 905-362-0701
  • Brian J. Fleming Adult Learning Centre Lakeshore 870 Queen Street West. Call 905-891-3034

DPCDSB offers a broad range of General Interest courses at several different sites Call 905-891-9283

Halton Catholic District School Board Click on Programs then Continuing Education/Adult Education. Learning Curves delivers to Oakville which is just west of Mississauga and served by the Halton Catholic District School Board

Thomas A. Merton Adult Learning Centre . 171 Speers Road, Oakville Call 905-7555 Ext 223 This Centre offers ESL and high school credits.

Toronto Catholic District School Board Call 416-397-6600 This Board offers a full range of language programs, English as Second Language. Language Instruction for Newcomers, Enhanced Language Training. For those who speak English, upgrading in English, Math and Computers through Literacy Basic Skills or now referred to as Essential Skills. On their website under programs and services, choose Adult Education. They have 31 locations.

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